April Writing Prompts

Creative Writing Prompts Printable

April’s writing prompts are a few days late, so apologies for that.

Thank you so much for your kind comments on my last post. While I have done a lot of non-fiction writing for websites and essays etc., fiction writing is a whole new world to me. I am enjoying the new exploration of imagination, and appreciate the encouragement, so thank you again for letting me share it with you 🙂

The White Hard Snow – A Short Story

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Photo credit: Rob Bye

Maria slipped off her boots and socks, shivering as she plunged her toes into the ice-cold sand. Staring out at the wild sea she realised her neighbour had been right after all. She’d mocked the suggestion at first, but now she could see it with her own eyes. A long ridge of wave was caught solid in its tumble to the shore, frozen, as if time stood still.

It reminded her of the time her mother had told her the story about the frozen sea. A true story. Sometime during the war – she and Aunt Jenny – they’d called it the ‘white hard snow’. A frozen wave just like this one.

Oh, the stories they would tell of having to make do with what they had, no meat, no butter, no coal, but still they seemed to look back on that time fondly – especially the way they talked about the frozen sea. She remembered the way their faces had lit up in the telling and wished she’d paid more attention; the memories were fading now.

Maria walked to the water’s edge. Slivers of ice floated and rocked in the foam, and she bent and dipped her hand to lift a few shards, crushing them between her fingers before flinging them out towards the frozen wave. The tension she’d felt since leaving the house was melting, though she grew colder by the minute.

‘Mum, Mum…’ she turned and saw her daughter racing towards her.
‘Mum, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break it… I… I didn’t do it on purpose.’
Maria recalled the fragments of glass inlaid with intricate white lace patterns. Swallowing back the remains of her anger, she took a deep breath.
‘I know you didn’t do it on purpose, Annie’, Maria caught a strand of her daughter’s hair as it whipped about her face and tucked it behind her ear. ‘Let’s sit over there on the rocks for a moment…’

‘I only have a few things that belonged to Grandma and that plate was very special to me… some things just aren’t… replaceable.’ Annie nodded solemnly.
‘You miss Grandma, Mum?’ she said, absentmindedly drawing stars in the sand with her finger.
‘Yes, I miss her a lot Annie.’
‘Well, at least you have me and Aiden.’ She looked up with a cheeky smile.
Maria squeezed her daughter’s shoulder.
‘Look, can you see over there?’ She pointed her finger, directing Annie’s gaze to the water’s edge.
‘What is it, Mum?’
‘The sea is frozen, shall we go and see..?’ but Annie was already on her feet and running towards the shoreline.

February Writing Prompts

February Writing Prompts

For a year or so I have been reading the book editor Bryson’s blog ‘The Habit of Being‘. This is a lovely personal blog celebrating daily moments and interesting reads. Through her newsletter she has offered encouragement and tips for writers including monthly journal prompts.

I’ve found the words and short phrases inspiring because sometimes it just takes an unusual or evocative idea to help see things from a different perspective.

She has recently made some changes to her online presence, and, sadly, she is no longer offering the monthly prompt list. So I decided to create one of my own. A word or phrase for each day of the month gathered together. (I nearly lost it a few times in the two hours it took me to figure out how to turn a word document into an image that I could post on a blog not to mention turn a list into two columns – but phew –  I got there in the end! )

I’m posting it here in case anyone else would like to use it to spark off their own writing session. So do save or print it if you feel it could be useful to you.

If all goes well, I’ll post a new list each month.

x

What I’ve Learned in Three Years of Blogging

unnamedMy last post was my 200th on this blog, and here I am still at it. In this post I wanted to write about a few of the things I’ve learned since beginning blogging three years ago. Three years and 200 posts isn’t all that long and I am certainly no expert, but this list may help those who are just starting out. All these are still things I need to be reminded of when I feel unsure and stuck, which still happens a whole lot.

Commenting with grace on other people’s blogs: This is how you build reciprocal relationships and find common interests. It is a wonderful way to find inspiration for your own posts. Only write positive comments. I say this because it is so easy to be misunderstood. Without the benefit of tone and facial features, comments can be taken to be more hostile than you intended. It is entirely possible to put across your differing point of view in a positive way without being rude and stirring up conflict. I admit to having been guilty of this in the past – we do so like to be right – don’t we?

Commenting with grace on your own blog: If someone came up to you in every day life and praised your latest piece of writing, would you turn away and ignore them? Would you just smile and walk off? If you have a busy blog, it may not be possible to respond to every comment, but your readers will want to see that you have at least tried to make the effort. If you have few commenters, it would be wise to reply to them all. On the other hand, if someone makes a comment that upsets you or is downright rude, have no qualms about deleting it. If it is a comment that is merely annoying then feel free to ignore it. Responding in the heat of the moment can often leave you regretting your words… I speak from sore experience. Take a grace period and think about how best to deal with it.

Ignore your follower numbers: Just that!

Keep posting and confidence and topics will come easier with time: Over the years I have struggled to find that elusive ‘focus’ for my blog and have posted about all kinds of things. Maybe I will eventually settle onto just one topic, maybe not. What matters is to be brave and keep posting. Let your interests guide your way, and the way will become clearer as you progress.

Don’t spread yourself too thin: You don’t need every social media account to have a worthwhile blog. What matters is creating worthwhile content and interacting with your readers, so put those first. The more time you give to your life away from the Internet, the easier it will be for you to write interesting stuff on it.

Find your own way: There are a billion posts giving advice about blogging (just as this one is); take what you need and ignore the rest. Your unique approach to life and writing is what readers want to read. Don’t compromise this for popularity. I’ve seen too many blogs change from personal and unique, to popular carbon copies of a thousand others. Yes, the blogs that write template posts with perfectly pin-able images will get more followers – but take a closer look at their comments section – is there real human interaction or a whole lot of attention seeking and advertising? What kind of interaction do you want on your blog?

Set a schedule: It doesn’t have to be carved in stone, but a regular schedule of posting will help you immeasurably. If you make an intention to post once, twice, three times or more every week, and build it into a habit, you will find that your brain works unconsciously to find material to post about.

Don’t make blogging harder or more important than it is: RELAX! (ha, need to tell myself this every day) Life is full of uncertainty. I am most wary of those blogs where everything seems to be worked out, where the writer is an ‘expert’. We all know that life is not like that. Life changes direction in an instant, some days we are wobbly and unsure, some days we think we are on top of it all. Both are valid. So my favourite blogs are full of both… a little wisdom, a little uncertainty, a little imagination, a lot of real.

It is not necessary to criticise the way other people do things: Whether that be the way they live or what they write, even if you strongly disagree. This is a personal preference. I want to read blogs where we help each other not tear each other down.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates.

We all have our flaws; a single ill-thought comment could destroy a person’s confidence forever.

You don’t have to share everything: I recently read an article about sharing opinions. Just because you didn’t post about the latest news headline doesn’t mean you don’t care and doesn’t mean you haven’t taken action behind the scenes. Everyone is making a contribution in their own way though it may not be visible online. Lamenting the fact that you are the only person that seems to care about this, that, or the other, is narcissism. You can’t see inside people’s hearts, or know what they do away from their computer screen.

Maybe we can try to think the best of others and still share what we believe and how we like to do things on our blogs. As a caveat, I do think it is important to share at least some personal details, otherwise there is a feeling that the writer is hiding something and we may distrust them. As a reader we can understand a writer not wanting to talk at length about their children or very personal subjects, but a balance is important. We can share just a small portion of our lives here on the Internet and that is okay.

Connecting with the everyday: For a long while I wondered what it is that brings me back to a blog. There are several that I have read for years, and some I have read a little and left and later returned. Asking the question of what most attracts us to a blog will help us find our way to our own blogging style. I read blogs about all kinds of things – nature, gardening, art, craft, writing, knitting, daily life, cooking, books. I love writers who share titbits of their own personal life – their unique perspective of the world shines through their writing. I love to read about bloggers who are making a difference without pretending to be an expert or criticising the failings of others. These people inspire me to live a deeper more creative life and find a small way to make a difference myself. It has nothing to do with ‘niche’ or professional looking photographs. Though the way a blog looks is important, more than anything, it is authenticity that counts.

These are just my personal findings – your experience may be completely different. For me, blogging is a continual process of discovery – of how I understand myself and the world around me. It is an ongoing process, and it is fascinating to look back and see how much you learn and grow over the years. I am sure I will learn so much more in the years to come. I would love to know what you have learned about blogging, and what you personally look for in a blog?

Follow Your Inner Moonlight

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“Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening.”

~ Allen Ginsberg

I wholeheartedly believe that we all have something individual to contribute to the world – something important that needs to be expressed. Perhaps something only you can say. Blogging gives us an opportunity to express and communicate this with others.

It means we have to become a little vulnerable, we have to let people see the parts of us that are not so strong and certain. There is deep value in this process for the reader as well as ourselves. It takes time and care to say what you really mean – to say what matters. This is something I really want to work on with my blogging this year.

We all have these mad parts of ourselves, parts that speak of our pain and our hope and our passion. I want to read and write about those. There are some things I will keep private, for sure, but I need to get out of my comfort zone, even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts.

What is your inner moonlight leading you to do or say? What makes life different and real for you? What would you say if you didn’t care who was listening?

Silence is Easy

Do you censor yourself? When you speak? When you write? I do. For as long as I can remember I have kept lots of thoughts to myself. Children should be seen and not heard – that is the generation I come from – it is a mantra I carried into adulthood. Good girls are polite, agreeable and quiet.

As I grew older I kept quiet because I wanted people to like me; I kept quiet because I didn’t want to cause upset or outrage; but mostly I kept quiet because I was afraid.

It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I realised that no-one, absolutely no-one really knew me at all.

Silence is easy.​ Silence is easy because it is safe. Speaking out takes courage. Most people including me take the easy route more often than not. Occasionally brave people die when they refuse to be silenced. Most of the time ordinary people die inside because they stay silent.

The Blogging 101 assignment today was to write a post to your dream reader. Well my dream reader would be someone who, like me, might be afraid of saying some of the things they need to say. Things that might make other people not feel so alone, or might help another person speak out against something they see as wrong. I would like to encourage my dream reader, just like I try to encourage myself, to be brave, to take the hard way – to speak out.

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A New Year, A New Blog, A Fresh Start

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Hello world and welcome dear reader to the very first post of my new blog. Allow me to introduce myself and tell a little of the reasons why I come here to write.

I’m Kim, a bookish sort, odd and insatiably curious. I live in the south-west of England with my two youngest children – Jay (15), who is ‘unschooled‘, Emily (12), and our black cat Baudelaire. Learning about unschooling has changed our lives immeasurably for the better and I am writing a book about my experiences with school and home education (when I’m not procrastinating by blogging, reading and surfing the internet amongst other things).

I like to create a cosy home; I bake sometimes; I hate clutter but am loath to get rid of a single book. And when I get irritable with piles of dishes to wash and messy floors, or the mould that needs removing from the bathroom ceiling (again), I try very hard to remind myself that it is not forever, nothing is forever, and I try to be grateful for even those things.

I want to slow down and learn to do one thing at a time. I want to take the time to smell roses and watch the ripples on the lake, to lie in the grass in the middle of summer just watching the clouds drift overhead.

Writing is a way for me to let go of a painful and difficult past by focusing on the here and now as much as I can. I want to value this one life, not waste it. Sometimes I get so afraid of wasting it that I am paralysed by fear – utterly stuck – like an ageing tractor rolling its big old tires in the mire and digging a trench beneath itself, sinking deeper and deeper into the squelchy mud. Well, this is my way of pulling myself out, cleaning myself off and moving on.

I suppose I just want to live a well-lived life though I am not at all sure just what that is. And so I write. I write to explore, to discover what I think about things and to be inspired by the lives and words of those who know a heck of a lot more than me.

Writing helps me uncover the truth, or at least my truth. When I write about the small ordinary things – the ‘little wonders’ of an everyday life, I’ve taken time to truly see. I appreciate them and remember them and that feels like a good thing.

So here I’ll write about the books I read, art and crafty projects, growing things in the garden, treasures found in dusty lanes and wild fields, inspiration and ideas to live better, deeper, richer.

I’d love for you to join me for a cup of tea, and we’ll put the world to rights or at least have a darn good try. Thanks for reading.

x